Of all the barbecue joints in Memphis, Rendezvous, just a few blocks from the Madison, has the best dry rub. Tango & Murf’s (4707 Austin Peay Hwy.; 901-388-0498), housed in a former convenience store eight miles northeast of downtown, serves up apple-smoked ribs, pulled pork, and brisket with a side of NASCAR (projected prominently on a side wall). And for dinner, don’t miss Felicia Suzanne’s, where Emeril protégé Felicia Willett serves down-home dishes like Wild Gulf shrimp and Andouille sausage served over a stone-ground grit cake.
Even if you don’t stay at the Monmouth Plantation in Natchez, make reservations for one of the formal five-course dinners with a daily changing menu that might include seafood gumbo, fresh Louisiana redfish, or a thick filet. On your way out of town, stop at the Donut Shop (501 John R. Junkin Dr.; 601-442-2317), a drive-through serving Big Poppa’s hot tamales—wrapped in corn husks, aluminum foil, and newspaper—by the half-dozen or dozen, and killer glazed doughnuts.
Good news for Nawlins foodies: Most local restaurants have reopened, and new entrants are finally starting to trickle in. Start your day with hot beignets and a café au lait from Café du Monde in the French Quarter. For lunch, it’s R&O’s (216 Metairie Hammond Hwy.; 504-831-1248) on Lake Pontchartrain—order a plate of crawfish (heads and all) and fried-oyster po’boys. Local chef-celeb John Besh’s new brasserie, Lüke, serves up platters of fresh mussels, clams, shrimp, and oysters, and an extensive selection of Belgian, French, and German beers.